Patient groups, charities and clinicians unite to raise awareness of half a million vulnerable people, many of whose lives have never returned to normal after Covid-19 lockdown.

The campaign is calling for the Government to reverse its decision and immediately roll out Evusheld for the immunosuppressed.

London, 17 October 2022: A new campaign launches today in the UK to raise awareness of the #Forgotten500k and their families, many of whom are still living restricted lives at huge risk from Covid-19. Around 500,000 immunocompromised people across the United Kingdom are at higher risk from the virus because their weakened immune systems make them less likely to respond well to vaccines. Many are still shielding, still in isolation, still unable to work, see friends or hug loved ones. Yet their pleas go unheard.

Patient groups, charities and clinicians are urging the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to reverse a decision made under their predecessors to deny vulnerable patients access to an important treatment: Evusheld.

The rollout of Evusheld is urgently needed this winter to help protect the immunosuppressed from Covid-19 as we see rates rise again. This drug would allow this group to return to a higher standard of life. Currently the UK is at odds with over 32 other countries who have approved the drug and who are already months into their rollout scheme. Yet still the UK Government won’t make it available on the NHS this winter.

The #Forgotten500k launches with a new national advertising campaign today, kicking off a series of events and activities which includes a special podcast from Crisis What Crisis? a silent vigil in Parliament Square and a Tortoise Media ‘Think In’.

The campaign allows the #Forgotten500k to be seen, to build connections and to be heard through their personal stories. The goal is to change the Government’s decision. As well as patient group Evusheld for the UK, the campaign is being supported by: the National Kidney Federation; Blood Cancer UK; Lupus UK; Immunodeficiency UK; Leukaemia Care; Kidney Care UK; Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis; Myaware; Follicular Lymphoma Foundation; CLL Ireland; WM UK; Vasculitis UK; Anthony Nolan; Leukaemia UK; Kidney Research UK; and CLL Support.

Martin Eve, a member of Evusheld for the UK, said: “The clinically vulnerable of the United Kingdom were promised protection. Instead, they have been abandoned and forgotten. While the rest of the world takes care of its immunocompromised using Evusheld, the UK delays without delivering. Our patients need protection now and the current government schedule is just not good enough. Our members lead intolerably restricted lives, will suffer the mental health effects of 1,000 days of isolation for years to come, and are dying at much higher rates than the general population with Covid-19. The Secretary of State for Health has a clear answer: procure Evusheld, protect the vulnerable, and alleviate pressure on the NHS.”

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive for Blood Cancer UK, said: “Over one in 100 people with blood cancer have died of Covid, and many thousands more are continuing to experience the mental health burden of trying to avoid it. There is good reason to believe Evusheld would give significant protection to our community, and so the Government’s refusal to make it available is missing the chance to do something that would both help keep them safe and get back to their normal lives. In doing this, the Government is insisting on a level of certainty for Evusheld that goes far beyond the level of certainty it needed before it bought the original vaccines in 2020, and is letting down immunocompromised people.”

Dr Lennard Lee, Academic Medical Oncologist at the University of Oxford and who has been advocating for immunocompromised people, added: “Tixagevimab /Cilgavimab (Evusheld), developed by AstraZeneca, was approved in March 2022 by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 32 other countries have evaluated the evidence, including the US, Israel and France, and are using it to safeguard immunocompromised patients this Winter. The plan to withdraw the original Winter plan to protect immunocompromised patients is inexplicable.”

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